Turn Your Outdoor Space Into an Oasis

Randy Sorrell, owner of Surroundings by Natureworks+ inspired attendees at the March Designer On Call workshop on how to design and execute an outdoor living oasis – outlining steps to visualize the plan, along with best outdoor materials and prominent design trends to get the space you desire.

Randy Sorrell, Surroundings by Natureworks+ located in the Indiana Design Center, suite 120-A.

Randy’s 5 steps to creating your ideal outdoor design:

  1. Pick Your Partner – In selecting an outdoor designer, the most important things are to set expectations early and communicate often with the team.
  2. Express Your Story – What is most important to you? How do you live? Do you have kids and want to hang out with them? It is important to express these things initially, as it drives the design of the entire space.
  3. Identify The Realities – Every person’s home and needs are different, therefore subject to unique challenges. Budget is one such consideration, but other real hurdles can be controlling the bug situation, knowing what plants would aggravate allergies, etc. Other things to consider, especially on a house by house basis: drainage issues, architectural style, easements, easy access to installation and transitions from indoor to outdoor spaces.
  4. Develop The Design – Once all of the necessary and sometimes logistical practicalities are conceptualized, one must actually make the design for the space, whether that be with pencil and paper, with a CAD program, or 3D renderings.
  5. Installing, Detailing, Enjoying – After the plans are set, then the installation can begin. Once the hardscape is put in, then the details can be added, like furnishings and other outdoor accessories. With all of the extras added, you can really enjoy comfort in your outdoor area.

BEFORE: Every space is different and can present unique design challenges.

surroundings by natureworks outdoor living

AFTER: Re-imagining your own backyard can be difficult to conceive. Working with a professional outdoor designer can cleverly blend your ideas with your desired functionality (from the design portfolio of Surroundings by Natureworks+).

When considering an outdoor space, materials are key, as they can make or break the space itself. If the materials don’t fit the needs of the family or the space, or if they aren’t durable enough for the purpose, then you won’t be able to fully enjoy the area. Randy shared some of his favorite go-to materials:

  • Limestone – the most frequently-used stone by national monuments. It is easy to use, timeless and readily available.
  • Travertine – a dense stone that is also very popular. It is a good choice for pool decks, as it does not get slippery when wet.
  • AZEK decking – a newcomer to the polymer decking market. It performs better and lasts longer than other, older composite materials. It is also a beautiful product; it looks like real wood.
  • Ipe wood decking – (pronounced EE-pay) is an exotic hardwood that is naturally resistant to rot and decay, is 8 times harder than California Redwood, and is guaranteed for 20 years without preservatives.

Flagstone, pavers and travertine patio combine seamlessly in this custom grill station to provide a long-lasting and quality space to enjoy for years to come (from the design portfolio of Surroundings by Natureworks+).

Also trending at the moment alongside limestone patios are fire features and mixing of materials.  Pergolas are still very popular among homeowners. Almost every outdoor area can benefit from a pergola, which is a trending detail, and a very functional one as it offers semi-permanent shade to the area.

Pergolas come in all shapes and sizes. Everything from a do-it-yourself kit to a fully custom design. This custom pergola by Surroundings by Natureworks+  incorporates the home’s classic Italianate architecture while enhancing the transition from indoor to outdoor space beautifully.

Mixed materials in patios is another trend that has gained favor recently. Rock mixed with pavers lends visual and textural interest to the design lending itself to an Asian-inspired or Zen feeling space.

Custom firepit and mixed rock media patio from the design portfolio of Surroundings by Natureworks+.

Surroundings by Natureworks

Dreaming of re-creating your outdoor space into an oasis? Turn to the pros at Surroundings. Open Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment, Indiana Design Center, suite 120-A.

NEW @ THE IDC: Mitsch Design Expands Studio

Highlights include furniture showroom and virtual reality design studio

Mitsch Design’s consistent growth, and the desire to offer clients more turnkey services and advanced technology, has prompted the firm to open an Atlanta office and triple the size of its headquarters office in the Indiana Design Center. The $2 million expansion will create up to 43 jobs in Hamilton County by 2021.

The One–Stop Source for Clients

Founded nearly thirty years ago by Jeryl Mitsch, Mitsch Design is one of Indiana’s largest firms in its field. They have a staff that includes nearly thirty accredited designers and architects, focusing on multifamily, senior care, corporate, healthcare and education projects. “We are anything but typical; we are a one-stop source for our clients,” says Mitsch. “We offer innovative interior design and architecture services, we are also a furniture dealer with over one hundred fifty lines, plus we offer branding and marketing expertise,” she adds.

Mitsch Design: Indiana residential design project.

This simpler, more efficient turnkey business model has helped the firm expand its national market reach with multiple projects underway in nearly twenty states. Local projects have been completed for Angie’s List, Dow Agro Sciences, Citizens Energy, Eskenazi Health, Delta Faucet, Flaherty & Collins, Indianapolis Museum of Art and many others.

“Here in Indianapolis and across the nation, our clients value spaces that encourage face-to-face interaction and green space that creates a connection to the outdoors. The workday can be stressful, so like in a home, we aim to create spaces where people can find a sense of retreat or personal connection,” says Mitsch.

Mitsch Design: Lakes of Valparaiso multi-family project – outdoor space.

Efficiency, Collaboration and Amazement

“We are in a creative, technology-driven business and our headquarters are designed to reflect that,” says Keith Cole, principal at Mitsch Design. Mitsch Design staff members will enjoy the high-tech efficiency and ergonomics of the latest work stations at the newly-designed office.

Mitsch Design: portfolio – commercial project.

In addition to the expansive corporate furniture showroom, the new headquarters will include a space not found everywhere—a Virtual Reality (VR) Studio. With the use of special design processes, software and goggles, Mitsch Design clients will be able to visually and functionally immerse themselves into design options. This ability helps with decision-making and eliminates costly errors. “Virtual Reality is a leading-edge service, and that’s what Mitsch Design is all about,” Cole states.

Local news sources have reported on the Mitsch expansion, including Indiana Economic Development CorporationIndianapolis Star, and Inside Indiana Business.

“Indiana has an abundance of talented and knowledgeable individuals graduating from its universities, so it makes sense for Mitsch Design to attract and hire forward-thinking individuals from our own state to maintain our leadership as innovators in our field,” said Mitsch. “Working with the city and the state will help us to hire and train the high caliber talent that our clients deserve.”

The IEDC has offered the firm up to $75,000 in training grants and up to $225,000 in conditional, performance-based tax credits.

PREVIEW: 2017 Decorators’ Show House & Gardens

As spring gets underway, it is time again to announce the dates set for the 56th annual St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild Decorators’ Show House and Gardens. Public tours will begin Saturday, April 29 through Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14.

Enjoy this video produced by the Indiana Design Center to hear what participating designers have to say about the 2017 show house.

This year’s location, the boyhood home of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is part of the Year of Vonnegut, a year-long citywide celebration of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s life, artwork and activism. 2017 marks a decade since the death of Vonnegut in April 2007. The address for the Show House is 4401 North Illinois St.

“This year the Vonnegut home has very interesting architecture, a lot of history behind it and a great story for Indianapolis,” said interior designer and long-time show house participant, Tom Korecki, an IDC designer.

Since last fall, many local interior designers, landscape designers, and their support teams have been working hard to prepare and execute their design plans.

“What I love about participating in the Decorators’ Show House is that you have the opportunity to really show your own style,” said designer Amanda Lantz, also a designer with the IDC.

This is a unique event where local designers transform blank walls and empty rooms into extraordinary canvases of art and décor and landscapers create lush gardens and outdoor living spaces. The wonderful talent of Indianapolis’ design community combined with the mission of the St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild has raised over $12 million for Eskenazi Health.

By purchasing a ticket, visitors to the Show House are inspired by great design and give back to an exceptional cause. Tickets are available for purchase for the home tour at showhouseindy.org, in addition to tickets for some special related events: Taste !ndy, Style !ndy, !ndy on Tap and an Evening with Dan Wakefield, a friend of Kurt Vonnegut and fellow Indianapolis-born writer.

GREENERY: Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year

“A New Beginning”
Reported by Tom Vriesman, Design Studio Vriesman

Renew. Refresh. Reenergize. Reinvigorate. These are all words that come to mind when one thinks of spring. The cold, gray earth begins to awaken from its slumber and life begins again as infantile shoots of green begin making their way through the earth’s crust. Ah green, it’s the color of optimism and I love it!

The Pantone Color Institute has anointed Greenery, a yellow-green shade, the color of the year. Seen on runways around the globe and furniture introductions from Milan to New York to High Point, Greenery has been creeping onto the world’s radar little by little.

So how do you integrate Greenery into your space? Reupholster a chair or two. Throw down a rug with verdant tones of green. Bring nature inside with a statement-making, large scale plant such as a fiddle leaf fig tree. Paint a room with it. Whatever the scale at which you choose to incorporate green, it will be sure to lift your spirits and give you hope for the future. Showrooms and designers at the Indiana Design Center can also help you go green this year and several examples are below.  From artwork to accessories, furniture, tile, fabrics and wallcoverings, you’re sure to find the right design elements to renew your living space. To learn more, contact Tom Vriesman, Design Studio Vriesman.

Turner wallcovering from Thibaut

Turner wallcovering from Thibaut available through a design professional at The Trade Resource, suite 225 at IDC.

Living room design by Design Studio Vriesman with green Knoll Saarinen Executive chairs.

Living room design by Design Studio Vriesman with green Knoll Saarinen Executive chairs, studio 207-C at the IDC.

Glazzio Oceania glass tile

Glazzio Oceania glass tile available at Jack Laurie Home Floor Designs, suite 124 at the IDC.

martin gallery robert park

“Prosperity” by fine art photographer, Robert Park, available at MARTIN Gallery Fine Art suite 120-B at the IDC.

BE INSPIRED: Attend Workshops hosted by Design Pros


The Indiana Design Center is pleased to announce the spring schedule of Designer On Call workshops hosted by design professionals for the public. The complimentary one-hour workshops take place on the third Tuesday of each month at 10:30 a.m. Topics range from industry trends to luxury kitchen and bath design.

Admission: The workshops are shared with the community at no charge, so attendees are kindly asked to bring a donation item for Second Helpings, an agency dedicated to fighting hunger and promoting culinary job training in greater Indianapolis. Ideal donations include pantry spices, pasta or rice.

Space is limited and reservations are required. Email or call the IDC Concierge to register at 317- 569-5975 or [email protected].


 TUESDAY, JANUARY 17 | 10:30 A.M.
Patina vs. Perfection: Natural Stone Tips, Facts & Alternatives
presented by Lonna Heshelman, Santarossa 

TUESDAY, MARCH 21 | 10:30 A.M.
Inspired Outdoor Living: Turn Your Outdoor Space into an Oasis
presented by Randy Sorrell, Surroundings by Natureworks+ 

TUESDAY, APRIL 18 | 10:30 A.M.
Master the Art of Small Space Design
presented by Dianne Wright, Coats-Wright Art & Design

TUESDAY, MAY 16 | 10:30 A.M.
From High Point to Home: 2017 Interior Trends Report
presented by Rebekah Clark, Decorating Den Interiors

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 | 10:30 A.M.
2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Trends
presented by Adam Gibson, Adam Gibson Design

All workshops are free and Open to the Public and take place at the Indiana Design Center at 200 S. Rangeline Road in Carmel, Indiana. Light refreshments are provided. Free parking is available in surface lots and the underground parking garage.

VIDEO: See Inside the Indiana Design Center

The showrooms and professionals located at the Indiana Design Center bring together a premier collection of resources and experts to help you build, remodel, or redecorate your home. The IDC is Open to the Public and showrooms feature national brands and products made locally by Indiana-based companies.

Watch the video below for a tour inside the IDC and introduction to the resources available to the public and design professionals. Call the IDC Concierge desk at 317-569-5976 to schedule your personal tour or send your questions to [email protected]. See you at the IDC!